“Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian” Carl Jung


Community, relationships and groups are frequently touted as being the solution to all of our human problems. I’m not sure I agree. 

While there exists a solace from within the tribe, there also manifests a great sickness, which is created by the dynamics of power that will inevitably play out, causing destruction to our humanity, our planet and to individuals who do not conform. 

When we ask ourselves the age old question “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you jump off too?” The truthful answer is that yes, most of us probably would. We’re all jumping off that cliff right now, with the way we live our lives.

Tribes, groups and communities often operate like cults. This begins within the family, extends to the classroom, social and professional communities, social media groups and influencers, religious groups, political parties, groups of common interest, countries and alliances. This also happens within the fields of psychology and psychotherapy, which is why Carl Jung probably made that comment.

The aim of the cult is to create dogma and doctrine. Universal and indisputable rules, truths and conformist processes of thinking. The cult tends to escalate one or more people to a place of absolute dominance where they are worshipped. The people at the top normally have highly charismatic personas or “performing selves”. They are often highly eloquent with the language of emotional intelligence, which they may use to manipulate. Often, they inflict abuse quietly, to the individual or to the collective, behind closed doors.

Overly moralistic values within our society of kindness, love and empathy above all else keep them safe. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it protects abusers from being held accountable for their own behaviour, they will not change until this happens. Secondly, it makes us all feels good. We don’t want to believe and see the evil in others, we want to feel love.

We consume this narrative because it gives us a hit of oxytocin, the love hormone, and it makes us feel good. It also means that we don’t have to take any action against powerful and frightening people. We take the cowardly way out and the path of least resistance. 

When Walt Disney transcribed the Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm fairy tales for his movies, he changed the endings. They originally had horrific, grisly and gruesome endings and perhaps, reflected the true nature of our humanity. Disney gave us all our happily ever after stories. Perhaps the real moral of the story, from the original fairy tales, was that there is often no happy ending and the bad guy normally wins. 

What we deny and avoid in our human nature, becomes stronger, bigger, more powerful and manifests in a more insidious way. After the hippy, peace and love movement of the sixties, came the Vietnam war. Off the back of the overly moralistic principles of religion, comes religious war. There are many evil people in our world and unfortunately, they frequently occupy the highest positions of power within our healing professions. 

Once at the top, the tribe often makes the leader (or leaders) “untouchable”. Everything that comes out of their mouth is deemed to be absolute truth. They are worshipped, idolised, idealised and turned into God figures. The people of the tribe lose their ability to think autonomously, to come up with their own unique viewpoints and are essentially brainwashed. If you have ever read the book “1984”, this brainwashing phenomenon is described fantastically well by George Orwell.

Now this is an important part to digest: any person who dares to think differently to the leader or leaders, challenge them, have a completely different viewpoint or is non-conforming to the implicit or explicit rules of the tribe, is often shunned, excluded and isolated from the tribe. This is particularly true of women, who are expected to be nice, subservient peacemakers. 


Within our Western tribes, people tend to subscribe to ideology and commonly held norms, that ultimately make us sick and destroy our planet. This is fed and encouraged by our media.

Our relationship with alcohol is a key example of this. Alcohol is probably the biggest unaddressed and largely unspoken about killer in the West. Why do we not frequently hear about the dangers of alcohol? Well, journalism is notoriously a big drinking culture. 

There are many other insane rules we follow, which are promoted by our media, including: 

  • the glorification of busy and hectic lifestyles 
  • the belief that money, looks, expensive cars, beautiful houses and materialistic pleasures will make us happy 
  • the belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with our humanity and we all need to be feeling shame, terror and “not good enough” on a daily basis 
  • the unrealistic expectations of superficial beauty, especially relating to women 
  • consumerism
  • the fake, polished and glamorous presentations we give of ourselves on social media, that do not reflect our true selves or our internal experiences (and as I write this I am aware that I present a polished version of myself on my own website!)

While there are horrific things happening in the world; no one can help anyone if they are mentally ill. Mental illness means that people are less able to parent and love their children well, which will affect the capacity of our next generation to make a positive impact on the world. 

No one person can take on the problems of the whole world and stay mentally well. Some people are more robust than others, and sensitive, empathic people need to have more boundaries around what information they can cope with mentally. Creating more mental illness via the media will hinder our capacity to save our planet and help those who are suffering. 

I believe that while relationships are undoubtedly crucial to our lives and happiness, we also need people who remove themselves from the tribe and dare to think differently. Perhaps we all, at times, need to remove ourselves from the tribe and dare to think differently. This will generate new ideas and creative solutions to our problems and shine a light on the insanity of group norms.   

Ultimately, the main issue as I see it within the tribe relates to systems of power. Abuse always happens within the context of dynamics and systems of power, so while these exist, human beings will be hurting each other, this is a given. Hurt human beings hurt other human beings, and they hurt our planet.  

The emergence of social power and domination constructs was primarily a manifestation of the patriarchy. This occurred with the advent of farming approximately 3000 years ago. Prior to that, we all lived as hunter gatherers in an egalitarian fashion, we had no need to dominate and go to war with each other. There was gender equality. We lived for nearly 300,000 years this way, in harmony with each other and with nature.

The patriarchal systems of power and oppression are at the root of our human demise and the destruction of the planet, I believe. If we want to move forward in this global crisis, I believe we need to take an active stance in dismantling systems of power within our communities, whilst celebrating and encouraging individuals who dare to think differently. 

The politician, celebrity or religious leader is no better or worse than the mother changing nappies, the homeless drug addict, or the person cleaning toilets. They are just doing their thing within the ecosystem of life. They all have their own unique wisdom to share.


This blog represents some of my opinions, can you come up with your own? Completely uninfluenced by the rules of your tribe?

I think that was what Jung was really trying to say: “these are my ideas and opinions, now you go off as an individual and come up with your own”.